NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Friday, February 29, 2008
My 2008 Reading Challenges
Official 2008 Reading Challenge Sites
1% Well-Read Challenge
10 Out of 100 of 1001
100+ Book Challenge
A-Z Reading Challenge
Anything Agatha Challenge
Book Awards II Challenge
Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
Non-Fiction Five Challenge
Royalty Rules Challenge
Short Story Challenge
Southern Reading Challenge
Spring Reading Challenge
Triple 8 Challenge
1% Well-Read Challenge **FINISHED**
100+ Book Challenge **FINISHED**
A-Z Reading Challenge (Abandoned)
Anything Agatha Challenge **FINISHED**
Bookmarks Magazine's "Best of 2007" (Abandoned)
Chunkster Challenge **FINISHED**
Decades Challenge **FINISHED**
Non-Fiction Five Challenge **FINISHED**
Pub Challenge **FINISHED**
Short Story Challenge **FINISHED**
Spring Reading Challenge **FINISHED**
TBR Challenge **FINISHED**
Triple 8 Challenge (Abandoned)
1. I'm looking forward to the Total Recall School for Dogs Banquet next week. The school honors all the dogs who have won titles and other accomplishments the previous year with beautiful plaques and a night of great food!
2. I don't handle drunk people very well. Not very useful when we're singing in the bar. . .
3. Pizza or Indian food is something I could eat every day.
4. Warmth and sunlight are sorely needed here in Minnesota. Come on, Spring!!
5. Look out, Borders, here I come!
6. I don't want any tattoo(s). But I like looking at the ones on the NBA players. Very interesting. . .
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to the bookstore and out to lunch with Peter, tomorrow my plans include brunch at Nala Pak with Peter & Tony (Vegetarian Indian buffett. Yum!!) and Sunday, I want to read, read and read!
Have a good weekend, everyone!
PS Play along with Friday Fill-Ins here.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Who is your favorite female lead character? And why? (And yes, of course, you can name more than one . . . I always have trouble narrowing down these things to one name, why should I force you to?)
A tough one! Until the series went to hell in a handbasket (in my personal opinion), I would have easily said Anita Blake. She was my absolute favorite until she got all trampy on me. Hmmmm. . . Temperance Brennan from Kathy Reichs' series is a pretty great character, so she's close to the top of the list. Off the top of my head though, I may have to cast my vote for Adelia Aguilar from Mistress of the Art of Death and The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin. She's a medieval forensic practictioner, tough and competent, but still has feelings. She makes mistakes, but owns up to them, and she's got a quick wit. And she keeps her dog with her all the time, so she wins extra points from me! :-)
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Wow. There are way too many great reading lists out there. My poor little head is spinning! Joanna at Lost In A Good Story has let us know that it is World Book Day on March 6, and there is a list of 100 Books to Talk About in 2008 included. More lists!!
And therein lies the problem with planning all of my reading for a whole year. There's always more I learn about or find I forgot about. I made no plans for non-fiction in this year's plan. I've become obsessed with the Great Books lists. I want to do the Pulitzer Project, the Nobel Project, the ALA Notable Books Project (I haven't found anything official for this idea), the National Book Award Project. . . Hmmmm. . . Now that I listen to myself, maybe there is something to be said for planning. I won't get any of the projects done if I keep switching! (Insert pathetic sigh here. . .) OK. Back to my original plan. However, nothing is stopping me from thinking about next year's plan! In the meantime, I'm collecting lists, lists, lists!! Perhaps a Projects Blog is in my future?
So many books. . .
Monday, February 25, 2008
As I said on the Official Challenge site: Why not? The goal of this Challenge is to read 10 of anything by Agatha Christie: books, plays, short stories, whatever, in any combination. I'm already committed to 8 Agatha Christie books this year. What are two more? :-) Here are the ones I plan to read:
Completed: 10/10 as of Dec. 23, 2008 **FINISHED**
1. Cards on the Table
2. The Labors of Hercules
3. Dumb Witness
4. Death on the Nile
5. The Body In The Library
6. N or M?
7. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
8. The Moving Finger
9. Evil Under The Sun
10. Crooked House
After I finish up Proust, this will be a fantastic treat! :-) You can also see my progress on my personal Agatha Christie Project here. This Challenge will be a good assist!
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The Serpent’s Tale, sequel to last year’s Mistress of the Art of Death, finds our medieval MD, Adelia Aguilar, forced out of retirement by Henry II to investigate the murder of his mistress, Rosamund Clifford.
I have seen these books referred to in other reviews as CSI: Canterbury, and I think that is an apt description. The series reminds me a bit of Brother Cadfael. Fans of historical fiction in general and historical murder mysteries in particular would enjoy these books. While there are a few scenes in this installment that seemed unnecessarily slow and I don’t feel the plot was as strong as the one in Mistress of the Art of Death, I still found The Serpent’s Tale to be a satisfying read. Adelia is a wonderfully independent lead character and very believable as a woman doctor/coroner struggling to do her job in a society where her methods are looked upon as witchcraft. But the real magic of this series is in its secondary characters. Mansur, Adelia’s Arab assistant, Rowley Picot, her lover and newly appointed Bishop of St. Albans, and the wildly entertaining Gyltha, whose observations regarding people and political events made me laugh out loud, are people you’ll be glad to meet again and sorry to let go when the last page is turned. (And I’ve probably spelled Gyltha’s name wrong, since I listened to the audio book and am guessing. . .)
Here’s to hoping we have many more adventures with Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar of Salerno and her band of misfits!
PS Just a side note: This is the second book I read this month in which Eleanor of Aquitaine was a character, and I didn't like her in either one. Hmmmm. . .
Friday, February 22, 2008
2. I love a good cup of hot tea and a comfy robe when I'm cold.
3. I often use bad language when I'm driving. I admit it.
4. I'm reading Swann's Way by Marcel Proust right now; I like it alot.
5. Politics is something I dislike talking about.
6. When I visited New York I most looked forward to seeing The Museum of Natural History.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to singing with Tony now that my voice is feeling more normal again, tomorrow my plans include reading, lounging and recoving from the emotional drainage from losing Miss Cleo this week and Sunday, I want to watch the T-Wolves beat the Mavs. I've got my fingers crossed!
I finally had the courage to have my blog reading level rated. I got a "Genius" rating! Yippee! I know it really means nothing, but it made me feel good. :-)
And just for your Friday fun, here is a quick video clip of the show my friend Tony and I do a couple times a month. Even when we get older, we still want to play Rock Star! Peter filmed this just before Christmas. (Check out the boots. They're my fav!!! But holy cow they make my feet hurt. . .) :-)
Have a great weekend, everyone!
PS Play along with Friday Fill-Ins here.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
All other things (like price and storage space) being equal, given a choice in a perfect world, would you rather have paperbacks in your library? Or hardcovers? And why?
I waver on this from time to time, but I would have to say overall I prefer trade-size paperbacks. They're bigger than the mass market paperbacks, so they give some of the sturdier feel of hardcovers, but they are easier to haul around and I like the look of them all lined up on the shelves. I find hardcovers cumbersome most of the time, but, that being said, there are some books in my personal library that have merited the purchase of a hardcover either due to the books themselves, or the fact that they are part of a series that I like the looks of. For example, I have the Everyman's Library hardcovers of The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid and The Divine Comedy.
Play along with Booking Through Thursday here!
It's almost Friday!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Before I continue, I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words and thoughts both public and private regarding Cleopatra. The book blogging community is a special place full of great people. I'm glad to have discovered it. Time to dry my eyes and smile when I remember her . . .
And what better way to get back to life than to join another challenge! I have to be honest. I had every intention of reading 100+ books this year anyway, so it's not a huge stretch, but how fun to make it Official! I keep a running list of my books for the year at the bottom on my blog, so those interested will be able to keep track there. Good luck to everyone else who is taking part also!
UPDATE: Nov. 9, 2008 -- 100 + BOOK CHALLENGE COMPLETE!
In the meantime, I intend to read all the volumes in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time this year. I've started reading Swann's Way. I'm almost 100 pages in and I have to say I have no clue what this is about or what is going on, but it is some of the most stunningly beautiful writing I have ever encountered. I don't know if I have Proust himself or the translator to thank for that, but it's gorgeous. I find myself reading paragraphs two and three times just to experience them again.
Happy reading, everyone!
Monday, February 18, 2008
This morning we had to say goodbye to our little girl kitty, Cleopatra.
Fourteen years ago a friend came to me with a Persian kitty that was badly in need of a home. Her rescue group found her taped up in a box in a restaurant parking lot. They weren't sure how old she was. She was scared of everything, her fur was completely matted, she was a mess. Could I keep her? Of course I could! That was how she came to live with me, my dog Bagheera, and my tomcat Jack. It took a long time, but she became one of the most loving cats I've ever had. She was so funny looking with her smushy face, crooked teeth and her little tongue poking out half the time, but she always conducted herself with dignity and ruled the house with an iron paw, even when two border collies came to live with her. (Two!?!?! She was not happy about that, I tell you. . .) I have video tape of her smacking Max ass over tea-kettle the day after we brought him home as a puppy. Go, Cleo! My parents' 60 pound border collie Rowdy was petrified of her. And she weighed all of 5 pounds soaking wet! (Not that she ever let us get her soaking wet. . .)
She went quickly and without suffering. She was a good girl who had a great, long life. It's time for someone to keep all those dogs at The Rainbow Bridge in line until we can all get there. :-) (Rowdy better take cover!)
We miss you Little Girl!
Lezlie & Peter
Sunday, February 17, 2008
A moving account of a man’s life of slavery and his escape to freedom, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave deserves its place on American Literature reading lists. It is not only a call to African Americans, but is a plea to every human being to search their souls for what God truly intended for us all to be. Its short length, at just barely over 100 pages, packs in a much larger book’s emotional impact. More than a hundred years after its publication, the messages still resonate.
The scenes of the harsh treatment of the slaves seem crueler in the matter-of-fact way they are presented, and I got the impression that he wasn’t telling us the worst of it. Reading Douglass’ thoughts as he worked so hard to learn to read and write made me eternally grateful that I had the ability to read and understand his words, both that I could read them and that he was finally able to write them. It makes me angry to see and hear about so many kids and other people in our society taking education for granted when it wasn’t all that long ago that it was denied to so many. If you read nothing else, read the Appendix in which Douglass explains his views regarding religion. Even I wanted to stand up and holler, "Amen!" As with the Ralph Ellison short story I recently read, I set this book down at the end humbled and introspective. And I went out and purchased Roots by Alex Haley.
Friday, February 15, 2008
1. Snowdrops are really pretty if I'm not outside in them. (Later: Wait! I just found out they were flowers. Oops. I thought the question was a about snowflakes. Sorry! However, the "really pretty" part still holds true.)
2. I'm going to write a book about books someday.
3. "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain is a song whose lyrics have meaning to me. I sang it for Peter at our wedding.
4. Just one sip and I get a nasty headache. Yup, I'm getting old. :-)
5. At home with Peter and our pets is where I'm happiest.
6. I believe that difficulty is a necessary part of life. How else would we learn?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to agility class and then reading, tomorrow my plans include reading (finishing Frederick Douglass and making a big dent in Proust) and taking care of my sick hubby (he caught my nasty bronchitis/cold) and Sunday, I want to read some more! Of course, I'm sure Max & Skye have a few other plans for us. . . <:0)
I need to get moving on my reading if I'm going to read these 100+ books I've pledged to read in all these Challenges! I've got a 3 day weekend coming up here though. I should be able to make some headway.
Play along with Friday Fill-Ins here.
Have a good weekend, Everyone!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?
Oh, yeah. Laurell K. Hamilton. Absolutely. I was enthralled with the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books. I couldn't get enough, and I recommended them to everyone. Then, slowly but surely, they became nothing but Erotica-Fest. I swear Anita was hopping into bed with everyone and everything. I lost interest in whatever little bit of story line was left and I haven't read one since I got 1/3 of the way into Obsidian Butterfly. I'm sad, because I really loved them. I will probably go back and read the beginning of the series someday, because to this day those are some of the most memorable books I've ever read. But I will most likely never purchase nor read any of the later books or any of her new ones. Bummer.
Now that I think about it, I'm going to have to say, with all due respect, the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan also let me down. The first three are stunning, and I would highly, highly recommend them. As for the rest, every one of them is around 1000 pages and nothing happens. Ever. I know Mr. Jordan recently passed away and I feel really bad about this, but I hated the rest of the series and only continued because it started out so great that I kept hoping it would get back on track. There are many who would argue with me, but I was really disappointed.
Play along with Booking Through Thursday here!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I love Jean Plaidy's books. I'm not so much enamored of the writing itself. While it's engaging, many of the characters seem little more than paper dolls moved around to illustrate the actions of historical personages. And in this case, I didn't find Eleanor to be a particularly likeable person. However, my personal reason for reading her novels is that I love learning about history via fictionalizations of real people and events. For some reason, I find it easier to remember who's who when it's attached to fiction. Plaidy's books are more interesting than a straight non-fiction history book (with exceptions, of course!), but usually not so dramatic that it's annoying. She pretty much tells things in a straight forward manner with a little intrigue for good measure. (Did the two kings really . . .?? Nah! Did they?? Hmmmmm . . .) And there is just enough detail to get the big picture and decide if you would like to dig deeper in the future or if that's enough to satisfy your curiosity. I knew little to nothing about the reign on Henry II or Eleanor herself when I read this, and I finally have a few more blanks filled in regarding my knowledge of medieval England. Mission accomplished. But I am going out to Wikipedia right now to see if I can find out if that story line about the two kings is true or just an intriguing use of literary license!
Monday, February 11, 2008
The trial yesterday went great!! It was a Canine Performance Events (CPE) trial, and the boys competed in 4 events each for a total of 8 runs. Between the two of them, we had 5 qualifying runs (or "Q"s), and placements of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. There would have been another 1st in there, but I yelled "Yahoo!" just a second too early at the finish of one of the runs, startled Max, and he knocked down the very last bar as he was jumping. Bad Mom! The runs we didn't Q in were totally my fault. I made a few errors in my handling. The dogs ran like champs and did exactly what I asked them to do. Unfortunately, I gave them a couple of wrong directions. Oops. On the upside, I really learned a lot and hopefully can correct the issues I had for our next trial in April.
We are very proud of Max and Skye! They've been away from competition for almost 6 months and went in yesterday like they've never missed a day! Max even finally finished up 2 more of his titles, one of them being his very first Level 3 title. Go Maxwell! Skye finished up a few last time, and would have had another one yesterday if it weren't for my messing him up on his Snooker run. We were sooooooo close! Oh well. Next time!
Now I have to clean my neglected house, check on my sick kitty (a 16-year-old Persian, Cleopatra, my only little girl in the house), and hopefully finish up my first Chunkster of the year. Then back to corporate reality tomorrow. . .
Have a good Monday!
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Anyway, back to books and the actual topic of this post. I finally got my hands on Ariana Franklin's sequel to The Mistress of the Art of Death, which was an absolutely fabulous book. It's called The Serpent's Tale, and this finds our medieval M.D., Adelia, investigating the death of Henry II's mistress, Rosamund Clifford. Rosamund Clifford! How weird! Because just before I went to the bookstore, I was camped out on the couch reading Jean Plaidy's book about Henry's wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (The Courts of Love), and I had just gotten to the part where Eleanor meets Rosamund in her secret hideaway. Now, in The Serpent's Tale, Eleanor is the prime suspect in her murder. Cool!
I love learning history via fictionalizations of real people and events. It's so much more interesting that way. I know, I know, it's called "fiction" for a reason, but it helps me to better remember the big picture. It took The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George before I could finally remember all the names of his wives, the order they went in and their ultimate fates. Now I'm trying to sort out more of the Who's Who of English History with Jean Plaidy's "Queens of England" series. And I like comparing various authors' takes on personalities and topics. For instance, there are tons of novels based on the life of Anne Boleyn. In some she's just an idiot, in some she's an egotistical snot, in some she is very sympathetic. Sometimes you can just get caught up in how the author tells the story. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time I was listening to Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance even though I already knew how the whole thing ended! (BTW -- If you ever have a chance to listen to the Recorded Books Audio of that book read by Davina Porter, Bianca Amato and Charlotte Parry, treat yourself and do so. I thought it was amazing!)
Well, time to go start packing up the car for tomorrow's trial. We'll be up at 4:30 am and hopefully to the trial site by 7:00, ready to run like the wind! Or, in Max's case sometimes, like a bull in a China shop. :-)
Talk to you Monday!
Friday, February 8, 2008
1. I'm looking forward to getting rid of this yucky bronchitis.
2. Egypt is a place I always wanted to visit and haven't made it there yet.
3. I've fallen in love with blogging! (And Special Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks.)
4. Six of one, and six of the other! (We're talking about donuts, right?) :-)
5. Addiction to books is a good thing.
6. The Serge Storms books by Tim Dorsey crack me up! (The newest one is Atomic Lobster)
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching my Wolves wreak revenge on the Celtics, tomorrow my plans include resting and reading and Sunday, I want to have a great time playing with Max and Skye at our first agility trial of the year!
You can play, too, at Friday Fill-Ins!
Thursday, February 7, 2008
A fun thing to do! A new question every Thursday, just for the fun of it! I need it, since I have been sicker than sick the last couple of days. A nasty case of bronchitis. On the upside, I got half of my first Chunkster read while I was on the couch for two days. :-)
Enough about that, and on to this week's Booking Through Thursday question:
Okay, even I can’t read ALL the time, so I’m guessing that you folks might voluntarily shut the covers from time to time as well… What else do you do with your leisure to pass the time? Walk the dog? Knit? Run marathons? Construct grandfather clocks? Collect eggshells?
You may (or may not) have noticed from past posts, I am a huge Minnesota Timberwolves fan, so a lot of winter is spent watch the games on TV and going to the games whenever we can. I think by the time this season's over, Peter and I will have gone to about 13 games. I love my Wolves!
Neither Peter or I are big TV watchers, but when we feel like slacking, we love watching old TV shows on DVD. We watched all 5 seasons of "Andromeda" recently, and we just finished "Twin Peaks", which was totally new for me. I had never seen it before. What a cool show! We're also slowly working our way through "Charlie's Angels", "Northern Exposure" and "Scrubs", and "X-Files" and "Star Trek: Next Generation" are on the radar for someday.
Our big leisure time activity, though, is our dogs. We compete in agility with both Skye and Max, and it is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I've loved dogs my whole life, but never showed them or anything like that. For us, there is nothing like running an obstacle course with our 4-legged team mates. There is such a deep connection that develops between you and your dog. I can't explain it. We train agility two nights a week, and go to obedience one night a week, and we usually compete about one weekend a month, sometimes two. And you should see their faces when we say, "Do you want to go to school?" If only kids loved school so much! :-)
You can see other people's answers to this question here.
Monday, February 4, 2008
This short story later became the first chapter in Ellison's novel Invisible Man. I read Invisible Man many years ago, but if I was as disturbed and uncomfortable about it as I was this story, I have managed to successfully block it out. It's so hard for me to understand a world where black people are treated worse than animals; or any other race or nationality for that matter. I know our country's history is appalling in that respect, but I, thankfully, have been insulated from being a personal witness. I don't come from a family or community that harbors those types of prejudice. It was always something that I just heard about, that happened on the fringes, some time and place far from me. This small glimpse into a hate-filled society made me ashamed and renewed my personal commitment to embrace and respect people and cultures different from my own. This seems especially poignant in this age when the word "terrorist" is bandied about so frivolously. People need to search their hearts and discover if their own wants and needs are blinding them to the humanity of others.
Read this short story free online! Click here.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
I discovered quite quickly that I had to slow down and read very carefully, that this was not your average story. My understanding is that Mrs. Dalloway is, in a manner of speaking, Virginia Woolf’s response to James Joyce’s Ulysses, which I have not yet read and she apparently hated. (If anyone knows this to be true or not, please set me straight. I’m just repeating what I read somewhere.) Upon reflection, I liked the “stream-of-consciousness” writing style. I was thoroughly confused at first, but once I began taking my time and just let the words flow in their own time and manner, I found myself caught up in the moments of the lives and private, scattered thoughts of the characters. The whole story takes place over the course of a single day and moves seamlessly from character to character as their paths cross during their daily activities. Pasts are revealed during snippets of conversations and meandering personal musings that occasionally became hard for me to follow. However, I was deeply intrigued by the book as a whole. I can’t say I loved it, but as my understanding of literature matures (assuming that it does), Mrs. Dalloway is a book I will come back to.
Friday, February 1, 2008
My Minnesota Timberwolves are having a great stretch, and I'm thrilled for them! 4-2 in the last 6 games. Too bad Big Al Jefferson didn't make the All Star team, but he will eventually. The guy is amazing! Not to mention he seems like a nice guy in general.
On the book front, I feel like I didn't get a lot read in January, but I did finish off 3 really big books: War & Peace, World Without End, and Wizard's First Rule. (The running tracker is below the posts.) Mrs. Dalloway is taking me way too long, but Peter and I have been busy. I'm on a mission to finish that off tomorrow.
I'm very excited about discovering and entering the world of Reading Challenges! I joined *way* too many, pledged to read approximately 110 books between now and Dec. 31, and I'm loving every minute of it. I have no idea if I can actually finish all that, but all I need is half a reason to try. I'm meeting great new folks out here through all of it and looking forward to meeting more. One of the things I'd like to do over the course of the next 11 months is to learn enough about how all this blogging, Mr. Linky, etc., etc., works and host a Challenge of my own next year. I'm keeping a list of ideas. . . Ancient History, anyone? Tudor England? So many possibilities. . . If anyone has any tips, please let me know!